19 December, 2019
A Claimant who was injured whilst attempting to move an archery target has lost her claim at trial.
The Defendant provided archery facilities and training sessions. The Claimant was a keen archer and attended sessions on a regular basis. Prior to an archery class starting, the Claimant chose to move one of the target stands. In doing so, the stand collapsed on to her hand and she sustained an injury.
The Claimant alleged that the Defendant was negligent and in breach of s.2 Occupiers Liability Act 1957.
The Judge found that the Claimant was very familiar with the structure of the target stand; she had been an archer for 40 years and had previously been involved in training exercises with youth teams and workers. The Judge found that she had received training on how the target structures should be set up or moved. He was satisfied that she was aware of the correct manner to move the stand. However, the Claimant had adopted a dangerous method, which risked her hand being trapped. This was outside of the training and from a common sense point of view, he agreed that it was an inevitable consequence that if the back arm came off the ground first, that it would topple forwards as the centre of gravity shifted.
The targets had been set up on a provisional basis with a view to being moved at the start of the club session. It was the Judge's view that the Claimant should have sought consent or reassurance that the targets were safe to be moved before attempting to handle the stand.
The Claimant also alleged that the wingnuts had not been tightened. The Judge was not satisfied that the failure to tighten the nuts was a breach of duty. In any event, the Judge concluded that the cause of the accident was the incorrect moving procedure adopted by the Claimant.
The claim was dismissed.
The Judge in essence concluded that the Claimant was the 'author of her own misfortune'. She was an experienced and trained sportswoman who took it upon herself to move a large target stand without permission and in a manner that lacked common sense. The equipment was not defective or dangerous and ultimately there was little more the Defendant could have done to have prevented this accident from occurring. We are reminded of McCombe LJ's comments in the Court of Appeal case of Edwards v Sutton LBC (2016) 'not every accident (even if it has serious consequences) has to have been the fault of another; and an occupier is not an insurer against injuries sustained on his premises'.